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Aging and Disease: In Awe of the Human Spirit

Aging and Disease: In Awe of the Human Spirit

Greetings one and all…

It is a glorious morning along the Front Range today. The week proved to be incredibly busy with programs and projects. So I am relishing a morning at home with time to reflect, to write, and to be! As I ponder the people I encountered this week, I am filled with gratitude. In fact, I am in awe. Not surprisingly, the people who attended my various programs taught me so much about life. Listening to their stories and witnessing their presence, I learned what it means to be courageous, graceful, determined, tenacious, thankful, committed, compassionate, caring, and loving. Consequently, I am in awe of the human spirit. Possessing the capacity to confront the challenges of aging and illness is truly AWE-some.

Yesterday, I presented a program regarding the impact of a serious disease on the individual and the family. We discussed the ripple effect of a diagnosis throughout the family system, recognizing that a medical issue is one of the most daunting challenges a family will ever confront. After the diagnosis of a chronic, progressive, and/or terminal disease, the family system is stressed, strained, and transformed in a myriad of ways. Roles, responsibilities, and rules change. The diagnosis is a game changer for everyone in the family—testing boundaries, communication, and beliefs. Obviously, a challenging time for all involved.

Every person attending the program yesterday had a unique story due to the particulars of the diagnosis and their family situation. Some people were just beginning the process of learning how to live with a disease whereas others were experienced caregivers or care receivers. It mattered not. Every one had questions, concerns, and fears. I marveled at how quickly the group came together—creating a safe environment that allowed (actually encouraged) heart-felt connections. People shared their stories, insights, and hard-earned wisdom. It was an amazing exchange of gifts!

During the small group discussions, I observed people who were previously strangers transform into caring, supportive communities. Sitting together and discussing the challenges as well as the opportunities encountered after a diagnosis, ever person in the group was enlightened by the collective wisdom. Strangers became trusted confidants, sage mentors, and traveling companions in the journey after a serious diagnosis.

As the facilitator of the program, I had a bird’s eye view to observe the interactions of the audience. I was profoundly touched by the small acts of kindness. I was inspired by the selfless gestures to accommodate the needs of others. I was humbled by the quiet courage of those present. And I was reminded to be thankful for every moment of my life. It was an AWE-some experience for me—one I will always remember and savor.

I look forward to the ongoing conversation. If you have specific questions or concerns related to your caregiving experience, I would love to hear from you. Until the next posting, I wish you and yours countless blessings…jane

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